We have cruised several times, although I think this is the first review we have written. This was however the first time we have ever cruised in a suite. (We were given a last minute upgrade purchase option that made it all worth it). The ... Read More
We have cruised several times, although I think this is the first review we have written. This was however the first time we have ever cruised in a suite. (We were given a last minute upgrade purchase option that made it all worth it). The other important thing to know is that our entire family are vegetarians.
Embarkation went smoothly. Smoother than we have had in the past, but we have never been in a suite before, so we were nicely moved along to a separate room, where we were the 2nd group to board the ship. (B2B-ers went first). They had the normal ship coffee and pastries. The room was nosier than we expected, being right next the metal detectors, you could hear a lot of what was going on there.
The cabin was really amazing. Again, being the first time in a suite, we were surprised at the overall size of the cabin, although it is still smaller then you think it should be based on the photos and floor plan. The floor plan was the same as the one they show online, but the balcony (being an aft cabin) was really large. There was more than enough room for the two lounge chairs and the table and chairs they had out there. The bed was comfortable, slightly better than we have had on previous Princess cruises. The extra pillows were also nice.
The bathroom was very nice, having a full sized whirlpool bathtub and separate shower. The sink area had ample storage for our short cruise, but the closet was small, fine for our 4 day or even a 7 day, but you would need to rely on the free laundry that comes as a perk of the suite to do much over 7 days with that closet.
We visited the Lotus Spa on the first day and had a look at the thermal suite (something you can use for free as a suite passenger) but never found the time to go back and actually use it while at sea. The staff was knowledgeable, but as usual it’s a pretty hard sell.
We did not see any shows while on board, as we had our 18 month old who preferred to go to bed after dinner, but we did enjoy the various groups they have around the ship. The shows were heavy on comedy, not toddler friendly. The events that we viewed Pool, board and trivia games all looked very well organized and people were having a lot of fun.
We did not go to either Sabatini’s or the Crown Grill, primarily because they don’t have a lot of offerings to vegetarians and it seems silly to get the same food they would prepare in the dining room for a $25 surcharge (Although for longer voyages, Suites do get the first night at a specialty restaurant comp’d).
The few times we ate at the Horizon Court Buffet, there was a reasonable selection of food, most of the people knew what was in the food when asked (is there meat in this?). The food was hot and fairly fresh. As usual, the desserts found at the Buffet were dry, too sweet or overall just not high quality. They were quick to find a high chair each time we needed.
We had traditional early dining at Botticelli’s (Deck 6 –Aft) and were pleasantly surprised each evening. The head waiter visited us and made sure there was something on the menu each night for us. The 50th anniversary dinner was very poorly planned for vegetarians, so the head chef made us a pasta primavera that evening and our daughter had a very fancy grilled cheese sandwich. It was excellent.
We had tea in our suite several times. (Another suite perk) Because a lot of the sandwiches contain meat, and the rest of the desserts they serve are very like those from the buffet, we focus our tea time on the scones, cream and jam. They delivered large quantities of the scones, jam and cream- so much so that where we actually kept the jam for the next day. In addition, they delivered fresh canapés to our room and for vegetarians this meant chocolate dipped strawberries- in our room, every day. Amazing.
Because we were in a suite, we were able to have breakfast each morning in Sabatini’s. This was a great experience, although one of the days all of the timings were off. I am not sure if someone was missing or what was going on, but almost everything took forever and food was not as fresh as the other mornings. The food was for the most part excellent, and they will go and get almost anything for you – but they don’t have some things on hand that I would have expected (like berries).
The service was great, with one exception. We were inquiring about the “Private portrait sitting with onboard photographer” as we had our 18 month old we were interested in getting a family portrait. On the typical flyer, there is no mention of cost, but when looking at the list of services in the room, it noted a “nominal fee” would be charged. When we asked down in the photo gallery about what it was, and how much it cost, we were told that a portrait sitting was free. So we asked the front desk, and this caused massive confusion, with no less than 6 calls/messages and emails back to corporate to figure out what we were asking about (because somewhere along the line we were asking for something for free, and they were not sure how to do that) In the end they said they could not do it for free, (even though we are fairly sure it is free for everyone else) we just gave up.
The room steward was great, cleaning up after us and my 18 month old and making sure we had DVDs in our room as requested through-out the cruise.
Disembarkation is the one thing that Princess just can’t get right. We have been part of relatively smooth ones and disasters. It started with them sending us luggage tags that put is in “Pink 6”, which nicely had us off the ship fairly early in the morning. (Scheduled to meet at 8:45). There was a small note on the bottom of the instructions that basically said “We gave you luggage tags, but we expect you to deal with all of your own luggage” I confirmed with the services desk we were currently in the self-disembark group. This surprised us a little, as we have never asked for it, and last Princess Cruise we were on (4 months earlier) we were told we could NOT self-disembark because we had 3 pieces of luggage and only two adults. In the morning, around 8:30 we headed down to the Da Vinci Dining Room with our luggage. This was not exactly easy, having to use multiple sets of elevators (as we had our luggage) only to finally arrive on the 6th floor to be told, we could get off the ship already just go back up the stairs to the 7th floor and get off the ship. We finally got an elevator (about 10 seconds before deciding to make multiple trips up the stairs) made it back to the 7th floor to find complete chaos. There were no instructions or directions to how to get off the ship. We finally asked someone, and were taken down a back way to get off the ship (as we left, we heard him use the radio asking why no one was escorting people to the correct doors).
Overall, we had a great cruise, and enjoyed the perks of a suite. We would definitely take them up on an offer to upgrade again, but not sure we could justify the full price cost, although we have decided that for our 25th anniversary we go to Hawaii 14-day in an aft suite.
Pictures of the ship and our cabin can be found here: